This gardening girl is happy to have this project finished–even happier to have the boxes of parts off the floor of my quilting studio.
If you missed my recent post Tuteur-ial…, check it out to see the first few steps of this DIY project. Back from my travels for a few days I get back to it.
In the first project post I stopped short of adding the final side having run out of energy, daylight and time.
My trusty rubber mallet tapped that final side on each tuteur.
Did a little paint touch up here and there in preparation to tap on the ball finials.
At 72″ tall I need a step stool for that final construction step.
Every dowel held joint got a 3″ long screw for stability.
Each tuteur required thirty-two screws–plus 4 in each finial base. The instructions caution against over-tightening these screws and I am proud to report the drill only got away from me twice out of 72 screws total. For now I have decided to forego adding the slender upright extra bar on each side. I think the look is a little more contemporary without them.
Et Voila! In place flanking currently unplanted hayrack window boxes, the tuteurs help to carry the purple front door and trellis work theme to somewhat colorless area adjacent to the driveway. The awning over my studio windows is actually a small stripe containing beiges, browns and the purple, although the purple doesn’t leap out–they painted wood certainly draws the eye! The last step is the selection of a climber or tow that can co-exist. Full sun, adequate water and hopefully evergreen. Any thoughts?
There are lots of examples and instructions to build various styles of tuteurs or obelisks on the web. Lacking the tools and skill to do a lot of accurate lumber cutting I went with a kit with all the hard tasks accomplished by someone who knows what they’re doing. Had it not been for my desire to paint the wood I could have assembled both in the matter of several hours. Thank you, Mr. deJong of Woodbrute Designs in British Columbia for your great directions and all parts included.
The last day of my long Bay Area weekend was devoted to a Garden Conservancy Digging Deeper program at Berkeley community farm Urban Adamah.
Urban Adamah was founded in 2010 by Adam Berman as the first urban Jewish community farm in the United States. The farm’s seeds are rooted in a Connecticut farm-based residential leadership program. Adam envisioned an urban farm that would provide a fellowship program, offer Jewish agriculturally based experiential programs for youth and families, and contribute to food security in the East Bay. The farm moved in 2016 to its permanent home near Codornices Creek in Northwest Berkeley after five years in a temporary location. The word adamah in Biblical Hebrew means ground or earth.
A little hard to decipher as the metal sign over the entrance has aged–it reads “Love…all the rest is commentary”.
Berkeley artist and landscape designer Keeyla Meadows was brought in to design a city required swale when the 2.2 acre parcel was a blank slate. She went on to design the Pollinator Garden, the Children’s Garden and work with staff as other parts of the garden have been developed. Keeyla (on the left below) and Emily, the Urban Adamah Landscape Coordinator were our guides.
We gathered in the center of a large circular planting bed to learn a bit about the farm’s history and philosophy. The core tenants of Urban Adamah are stated in this Mission Statement: “Urban Adamah seeks to build a more loving, just and sustainable world. We ground and connect people-to themselves, to others, and to the natural world. We do this by providing farm based, community building experiences that integrate Jewish tradition, mindfulness, sustainable agriculture and social action.”
Keeyla points out that almost every area of the farm has a central open area designed for small groups of people to meet and build relationships. This was a specific request made by Urban Adamah’s founder–places to gather as a community must be plentiful, welcoming and comfortable. The farm is open to the public most week days and is a lovely environment in which to enjoy the outdoors and observe nature at work–plus volunteer workers are welcome! We will explore most of the farm’s major areas, stopping to observe the plantings and ask questions as Keeyla and Emily share the design philosophy and challenges in developing this very young garden.
We start at the Blueberry Meeting Circle where a ring of sturdy upright logs provide both seating for us and a podium for Keeyla.
Without sharp eyes you might miss the ring of blueberries planted around the meeting circle, nestled amongst freely self sowing California poppies. Several native penstemons, blue-eyed grass and salvia also make their home here along with many Douglas iris.
Gardeners are good multi-taskers. As Keeyla describe the soil building and design process for this area, one of our group pulls weeds as she listens. The farm is organic and weeding is a never ending task, especially in areas where self-sowers are allowed to have their way.
The Blueberry Meeting Circle is a charming front garden to the Aquaponic House where four levels of plants are stacked, producing lettuces, basil and other leafy greens.
This buttery lettuce is planted with only a small amount of bark like material and its roots reaching down into the water below.
The bottom trays now hold a variety of plants being grown for their leaves textural experience, such as the gigantic Gunnera leaf and the surprising soft, almost furry, leaf of its neighbor.
This tank is home to fish whose waste provides the natural fish emulsion nutrients to the plant via the circulation system of pipes.
We circle out of the Aquaponics House and return to the Blueberry Meeting Circle, a great vantage point to see the full length of the Urban Swale. the farm is adjacent to Codornices Creek which is in the midst of a civic restoration plan. The city of Berkeley required the installation of a swale on the farm’s property to prevent runoff of both rainwater and farm waste water into the creek.
The Urban Swale, planted entirely in California natives runs from just beside the Blueberry Meeting Circle and along the farm’s front fence line almost to the entry gate.
Hooker Creek boulders and Sonoma stone were brought in to form the bank stabilizing structure of the swale. Plantings were designed in repeating color bursts to keep your eye moving down the length of the swale. Keeyla calls this ‘weaving color’ throughout a space. Native plants requiring more moisture are planted lower on the bank while the more drought tolerate plants are higher up. The shape of the swale allows accumulated water to percolate slowly back into the ground. Keeyla’s choice of native plantings in part was to relate the swale to the creek and to honor the area’s indigenous peoples and their stewardship of the land.
Several varieties of California poppies were included in the original sowing of reseeding annuals. Subsequent seasons have produced some interesting color variations as the result of natural hybridization.
As we walk to the far side of the farm to see the Pollinator Garden, Emily shares that this Administration Building was the first permanent structure built on the site; a great accomplishment after five years of a trailer office. The passionflower vines on the office trellises (and on the fences in the Urban Swale) were a concession to a former farm colleague who was instrumental in the early planning days. He loves passionflowers and would regularly harvest the fruit for use in tea and other edibles.
Urban Adamah gives away 90% of the food it grows. The remainder is used on the farm for events and for use by residents of the farm. They host a weekly farmer’s market for anyone who needs food. Local grocery stores, including Whole Foods, contribute goods not yet produced on the farm. At any given times throughout the year they will produce all kinds of vegetables, herbs, stone and pomme fruits, potatoes, onions, eggs and milk.
Crops are rotated regularly–vetch, Fava beans and crimson clover are planted as nitrogen fixing cover crops to be tilled back into the ground (after bean harvest, of course).
The Pollinator Garden is our next stop–a melange of seasonal veggies surrounded by plants chosen specifically for their attraction of certain pollinators. Emily worked closely with Keeyla on the implementation of the design and credits this garden as awakening her desire to not only plant, but also be a designer. As we visit not much is in prime bloom. Emily explains what different shapes and colors are attractive to specific kinds of pollinators–tubular for the hummers vs flat for the butterflies, etc.–and the importance of having something for everyone if you want to maximize pollination.
The Children’s Garden entrance is home to arbor seating–I haven’t been counting seating areas but I’m sure there at least 10. A young vine is on its way up to give visitors some shade while they get to know each other.
Urban Adamah has a full schedule of family friendly activities, including summer camp. The goals for children are the same as for adults; to build community; to foster Jewish traditions; to learn and practice sustainable agriculture and living.
The Children’s Garden is only a stone’s throw from the creek and has its own swale to serve the same purpose as the first built Urban Swale. Keeyla also designed this garden and the swale is similar in planting with the exception of possibly more native wildflowers–sowing seeds is a popular activity on this side of the farm. Here you can see the swale emerging from under the bridge to the Earthbench meeting place.
With the guidance of an educator from the Peace on Earthbench Movement (POEM) children built this garden gathering space using plastic bottles and other recycled materials over several camp sessions. Locally based POEM’s international mission is to encourage youth to turn plastic waste into artistic community gathering places. This is a project I would want to participate in–what fun!
Looking down the Children’s Garden swale you see art created by children and displayed on the fence.
Leaving the Children’s Garden we pass a newly constructed grape arbor tucked up against the street side fence.
As yet unplanted, the arbor will be home to several grape varieties (you can see the barrels just outside the fence awaiting the vines) for a nascent partnership with the kosher winery directly across the street. The structure was built by local Eagle Scouts–notice every section has seating for several people.
We make a quick detour to the goat pen to meet Lev and Ivy and give them a snack pulled right from the field–and right in front of the Do Not Feed the Goats sign.
These two clearly recognize Emily and know she comes with goodies. They will not let her out of their sight!
On our way to talk about the Seven Sacred Species Garden we stop for a brief art activity. Keeyla has provided us with paper, colored pencils and markers, and string and asks us each to make a wish or a prayer to hang on the farm’s olive tree, telling us our thoughts will be released into the wind. The olive tree is the farm’s focal point, visible as soon as you enter the gate. A universal symbol of peace and one of the Seven Sacred Species, this tree was 42 years old when it was selected for the farm 18 months ago and the variety is one preferred for its oil. It actually sits mounded high because the farm’s electrical and water utilities are underneath it. Rocks were added to stabilize the raised planting area. I’m not sure how much of an olive oil crop you can get from one tree but I’m giving the farm extra credit for covering all the bases.
Had to make a quick trip back to the goat pen to retrieve an errant paper prayer from Ivy!
The Seven Sacred Species are plants which deeply link spiritual beliefs to the natural world and play prominent roles in the Bible. They are olive, fig, date, wheat, barley, grapes and pomegranate. It was important to the farm’s founder to include these species on the farm and at this writing they have 6 of the seven, lacking only barley.
Several are represented around the entry gate.
There is a lone date palm near the Blueberry Meeting Circle and wheat planted in the crop beds. It is fitting that these species closely linked with the Bible would be at home in this place deeply rooted in Jewish traditions.
Our group had thinned a bit by now–many, including me, did not know the extent of the experience and had planned for less time. Those of us remaining took a break to gather fresh herbs, berries, greens and edible flowers to add to salad ingredients Keeyla had provided.
Keeyla had made grape leaf dolma stuffed with barley and currents, polenta, small white pastries with dates, and a blueberry tart. A wonderful challah was the highlight for me–delicious.
We filled our plates and gathered at a circle of benches to break bread and get to know each other a little better–exactly what Urban Adamah founder Adam Berman would have wanted.
This day was a wonderful experience and I would encourage anyone in the vicinity of Urban Adamah to take a few minutes to see the farm. I will close with a few more photos and several websites for you to get more information if you desire.
The owner of this historic Professorville cottage in Palo Alto wanted a garden to honor his father’s garden in the family’s native Vietnam. The result is an eclectic mix of tropical and traditional plants nestled amongst paths, gates and art pieces fashioned from driftwood and salvaged antique bricks.
The fully enclosed front garden is a potpourri of shrubs and vines nestled underneath a canopy of mature oaks.
The first of many unique driftwood creations crafted by the homeowner greets visitors near the front gate.
Mature rhododendrons grace the front walk–the only ones I saw on the tour this year.
The piece of driftwood perched atop this gate’s frame is reminiscent of a bird stopped for a rest on its daily travels.
Multi-colored antique bricks laid were laid in sand to make this rustic path.
A vine covered arbor..
…and another driftwood gate open onto a brick path to the back garden.
The back garden features a brick floor with accents of stone and driftwood. The single sunny spot in the garden is home to a raised planter with its own ‘found wood’ fence.
A raised gazebo is dressed in driftwood style and its comfy couch offers a great view of the garden.
A huge orchid in bloom, Dendrobium kingianum, is perched atop a waist high stump.
A rock waterfall, once part of a koi pond whose inhabitants sheltered under the raised platform of the gazebo, is home now to tropicals and ferns. The pond itself is now a brick floor, a bit of which you can see in the lower right corner.
A neat stack of materials stands at the ready for future projects! The beauty of this garden for me was the homeowner’s obvious affinity for the space and enjoyment in creating his garden with his own hands.
A FEAST FOR THE SENSES
As much as I admire landscapes with sophisticated green and white palettes, perfectly poised pots, and every detail dedicated to the theme; I am at heart a gardening girl who loves a riot of color and texture, prefers her shrubs in naturalistic shapes and adds things to the garden just because I want to try them out rather than that they fit some prescribed color or category. This last garden of my day on the tour spoke to me in terms I not only understand but see as achievable and possible to maintain in my slightly messy, do what you will vibe.
My dream home and garden would be an authentic Spanish bungalow tucked behind wonderful courtyard walls–a little bit of public garden street side and the rest of it nestled privately inside where I could play to my heart’s content in raised beds reached by stone and ground cover paths. Although the garden of this third generation landscape professional is very visible from the street side, it checked almost all my design boxes.
Red brick walks are the front garden’s floor and series of geometric beds harbor most pf the plants. The raised beds are capped with red brick and are perfect sitting walls. I love a good sitting wall!
The beds have a definite East coast influence is throughout and are densely planted with a mixture of roses perennials coming in and out of bloom amongst a formal structure of evergreen shrubs.
This neighborhood has sidewalks and wide parking strips (called something different everywhere-the area between the sidewalk and the curb)–masses of agapanthus and daylilies and other strap leafed perennials will make this the prettiest ‘hell strip’ in town when they are in full bloom.
A mature tree canopy provides dappled shade to the front walk.
The homeowner enjoys flower arranging and makes use of many blooms from her own garden. The front plantings were originally designed to serve as a demonstration garden for her clients.
A narrow planting strip along the driveway offers vertical gardening opportunities, both softening the look of the property line fence and providing additional privacy.
The driveway as seen from the garage which is placed far back on the lot. The combination of brickwork adds interest and just feels softer and cooler than concrete.
A small guest house with a pergola whose columns mimic those on the home’s front facade separates the back garden into rooms. I thought this little sitting area was one of the most charming I saw on the tour and I know I would be relaxing out there every day.
The red brick fountain tucked next to the sitting area is presided over by a Korean acolyte sculpture the homeowner has named Yoda. The glass balls are meant to deter raccoons from fishing in the pond!
Green Goddess calla lilies share the spotlight with papyrus and other water plants in the pond.
Raised beds and pots in the sitting area are massed with nasturtiums and other edible flowers.
The sitting area and pergola provide a lovely view of the rectangular lawn with its wide compacted gravel walkway–the original brick walkway was replaced after the homeowner’s Parkinson’s disease diagnosis in preparation for a time when a wheelchair path might be needed. Railings were also added to any areas having even a step or two.
The lawn leads to a raised patio from which to dine and enjoy the garden. Kiwi vines cover the the arbor and abundant roses are within reach of the house for easy cutting.
A brick walkway between the guest house and the garage draws visitors back–anxious to see what other delights they will find.
The lot is remarkably deep and easy to walk compacted gravel paths wind around beds filled with annuals, bulbs, perennials and herbs. A green screen along the back property line offers the sense of being all alone in the city.
Ornamentals give way to edibles in raised beds. I could sooo…live in this garden. It feels cool and colorful without being fussy or overly regimented. This is a gardener’s garden.
So ends this year’s Gamble Garden Spring Tour. The Elizabeth F. Gamble Garden deserves a post of its own and I’ll save that for the dog days of the summer when my spring travel is over and my own garden looks like scorched earth.
This year’s Gamble Garden Spring Tour is even more walkable than usual–it looks as though all but one of the gardens is an easy stroll from the Elizabeth F. Gamble Garden. Three are within a couple of blocks from each other. Taking the docent’s instruction I headed down the alley and around a corner to see my third garden of the day.
SIMPLICITY IS THE ULTIMATE SOPHISTICATION
This 120 year old cedar shingled residence is home to a minimalist modern Japanese garden commissioned by a homeowner with an affinity for Japanese history, art and garden design. She also is a practitioner of ikebana and wished her garden to have materials to use in her flower arranging. Family friend and garden designer Jarrod Baumann gave her the garden of her dreams including her requested Moon Gate, an iconic Asian design throughout the world.
The garden gate is flanked by a pair of weeping, corkscrew elms which were just leafing out. A zipper style path of Devonshire cream limestone and Ipe wood planks leads to the front door.
Miniature gingkoes, Gingko biloba ‘Mariken’ take the role of foundation shrubbery on both sides of the front steps and supply glowing yellow fall color fall. The plantings on either side of the front path are not symmetrical but compliment each other with similar materials in free flowing swathes.
The planting scheme is restrained without being overly manicured. Areas which would traditionally be moss in Japanese gardens are clothed in a perennial lawn substitute which is labeled Kurapia–botanically it is Lippia nodiflora. A bit of post tour research revealed this not particularly new plant is being trialed and marketed as a drought tolerant lawn replacement. It is a dense ground cover no more than about an inch tall. If allowed to flower it is very attractive to bees. The flowers are sterile and thus does not seed itself. HOWEVER, what is not really covered in the informative Kurapia brochures online is that it is very invasive, spreading rapidly by rooting runners. I planted a single 4″ pot under a tree in a smallish bed and spent 3 years fighting to get rid of it. It will overwhelm any other plant material and run under and over hardscape borders intended to contain it. I reckon this homeowner has it edged regularly. In this garden it was absolutely beautiful but I would caution buyer to beware! The Kurapia is bordered with a black mondo grass and sparkling Hokone grass, Hakonechloa macro ‘Aureola’. The low fencing encasing the front garden echoes the style of the zipper paths.
The shade of mature redwoods give this front garden which is on a busy corner, a welcome sense of enclosure and beds in dappled shade. Notice the large white concrete boulders which punctuate both sides of the front garden. Their smooth surfaces and pale color mimics the cream of the wall and path stones.
A magnificent cut-leafed Japanese maple, Acer P. dissectum ‘Sekimori’ stands as a sentinel to the side garden entrance in its stone planter.
The side yard is anchored by a rectangle lawn surrounded by mostly green plantings. The vertical bronze sculptures of bamboo stalks on both ends of the lawn are meant to evoke Inari shrines.
Just inside the gate and up against the house is this weeping cherry tree, one of a several used as a hedge, under which is tucked a small garden stool just in case you need a quiet spot to hide!
The white flowering quince also planted up against the house is prized material for late winter flower arrangements.
I can’t resist showing you the world’s best looking power meter, almost disappearing into the cedar siding.
Porches on two levels at the back of the house are draped in wisteria–white above and purple below.
Also planted on the front edge of the arbor is a Robinia pseudoacacia ‘Twisty Baby’, a deciduous, multistemed shrub in the black locust family. It’s contorted form and relatively small size make it an eye-catching patio specimen.
As we’ve reached the back of the side garden the bronze bamboo and plantings are repeated. They mask a wee potting bench and utility area.
A narrow Ipe planked path carries us to the opposite of the home. The small cottage ahead is used mostly for flower arranging.
Adjacent outdoor seating areas, one on a stone surface and the other stepped up on a wooden deck offer plenty of places to visit with friends and a glass of wine. The woven iron sofa and coffee table are massive yet airy–I’m not sure if cushions would usually be in play here.
Pots throughout are kept simple and spare. This large amber colored crystal was an unexpected piece of nature’s own art.
This designer left no detail undone–you saw the power meter, and now, necessary garden equipment (and possibly AC units?) is hidden behind a beautiful Ipe screen based on a traditional Japanese fan design.
The Moon Gate leads visitors back into the front garden via another zipper limestone path.
This sculptural Japanese pine, at least forty years old, anchors the front garden on this side of the house.
A dwarf red cut-leafed Japanese maple hovers only inches above the ground and seems to float in a sea of crushed limestone. The Kurapia ‘lawn’ and Hakone grass elements tie the front garden’s two side together.
Leaving the garden I can’t help but take one more glance at the Moon Gate, this time as it’s seen from the front. This garden is simple and serene without feeling fussed over or complicated–Glee, this one’s for you!
The second day of this Bay Area road trip is devoted to a visit to the University of California Botanical Garden at Berkeley to take in their spring plant sale. The sea mist was still hanging in the air as I made my way up into the Berkeley Hills overlooking the San Francisco Bay. All I can say is thank goodness for navigation–a mere four miles from my hotel must have had 2 dozen lefts and rights to get to the 2 lane road into the hillside campus.
The garden’s parking lots were full and signage led me uphill to the overflow parking some 3/4 of a mile away at Lawrence Hall. A free shuttle awaited to ferry us back down to the garden.
It didn’t take long for me to realize I could not take photos, peruse plants and pull my wagon all at the same time so pictures are few because in this case, plants rule. The garden’s collections are all closed for the sale so only the main walkway seen here is accessible with all secondary paths being roped off.
The Botanical Garden was formally established on the UC Berkeley campus in 1890 with its current 34 acre location in Strawberry Canyon since the property was purchased in 1909. Ten thousand plant types are organized in 9 geographic regions of naturalistic plantings from Italy to South Africa, along with a major collection of California native plants. With the little bits I could see from the sale site I know I want to schedule another visit to see all there is off this beaten path.
Here are a few vignettes visible from the walkway…
The fabulous royal blue Ceanothus below was the backdrop for a display of varieties for sale.
It was identified as Ceanothus thyrsiflorus var. griseus ‘Kurt Zadnik’ and it was no surprise to me that all of this particular one had sold in the few minutes since the sale opened. It is such a benefit to us to be able to see a plant we buy in a gallon can at its mature size and in excellent health. The common appellation Carmel creeper could lead you to believe it is a prostrate variety–not so!
There were areas for trees and shrubs, California natives, succulents, shade lovers and sun cravers, houseplants and tropicals but the table with the biggest crowd was the collection of carnivorous plants. Amazing!
I gathered up and paid for my precious cargo. All but one of the plants I purchased was propagated onsite from the garden’s collection. My booty includes 4 salvias, two of which have been on my acquisition list for a few years, a coveted Campanula incurva to add to a dappled shade area and a pelargonium with interested red patterned foliage. A day with new plants is a very good day for me!
Enter the Garden is the theme for the 34th Annual Gamble Garden Spring Tour. Five homeowners graciously opened their gardens to give garden lovers a peek into Palo Alto’s historic neighborhood surrounding the Gamble Garden and just a short drive from Stanford University. I am an unashamed garden tour junkie and this event is right at the top of my favorites list. The Elizabeth F. Gamble Garden is a precious community resource and is supported solely by memberships and donations, receiving no funding from the city, state, or any other government entity. This annual tour provides valuable funding needed to keep the garden open to the public every day of the year. Please look back at my posts Gather in the garden… and You can Gamble on this spring tour… to learn more about the historic Gamble property and see gardens from the 2017 and 2016 tours.
A SHEEP IN PALO ALTO
The clean and classic lines of this New England flavored family home are enhanced by the front garden’s simple elegance, featuring formally clipped boxwood hedges and white tree roses.
Glossy black shutters and sparkling white woodwork play off the warm toned brick porch set in a herringbone pattern. The pair of Adirondack styled swings invite visitors to stay awhile.
A sunny spot as you enter the side yard offers a place to grow a few veggies. Notice the herringbone brick ‘stepping stones’, carrying the porch floor theme into the back garden.
The simple black metal gate echoes the home’s shutters and provides privacy for the family’s personal spaces. The coniferous Thuja trees (seen behind the planters above and on either side of the gate) are used as bright green backdrops throughout the garden.
This black sheep welcomes you to the back garden and was an online find by the owner.
This side yard provides visitors with their first full height view of the back garden’s small grove of mature redwoods.
A beautifully appointed outdoor sitting room offers a spot from which to enjoy the garden–the use of herringbone patterned brick is repeated here.
Artificial turf provides open play space for a busy family and the ability to host large gatherings. The garden’s green and white palette gets a pop of color from the orange mid-century modern chairs tucked in a spot perfect for viewing outdoor ping pong tournaments. Formal boxwood hedges and globes enclosing beds planted with white azaleas, ferns and New Guinea impatiens feel cool and chic with a Southern ambience.
The redwoods’ trunks and roots dictate the bed elevations and the stair step plantings make the beds feel very full even though a good circle of air space protects each tree’s base. The redwoods have been limbed up to a height of 25 feet. This allows them to provide almost a forest like atmosphere without overwhelming the space. Lights have been woven among the trees and they need to be adjusted every few years to accommodate the trunk’s changing girth.
Looking back from the grass to the home offers a view of the gorgeous second story deck which spans the width of the home and is outfitted with lounges and greenery in bright white cans.
The outdoor dining room graces a small brick patio and is partially screened from the neighboring property by Thuja.
This small guest house was added in a recent remodel and its patio offers space for the outdoor kitchen plus a powder room for guests.
As you exit the back garden by the side yard an out of the way, but easily accessed, nook has been created for the family’s bikes. Even the family dog has a stylish pad, including his own sun screen.
The small space between the driveway and the property line fence is outfitted in keeping with the home’s formal front garden–including its own Adirondack loungers…
…and a Little Free Library in case you need a good book while enjoying the garden!
PARADISE IN A MEADOW
I like to start a garden post with a street shot–sort of a curb appeal intro to what the garden is all about. The Palo Alto neighborhood surrounding the Gamble Garden has homes of all styles and sizes set on smallish to moderate sized lots by California semi-urban standards. Real estate here is purchased possibly by the square inch and even a tear down property is priced in the multi-millions. Homes may be very close to the street and shielded from view by walls or hedges. Mansions on huge lots with expansive gardens are rare but very large homes on small lots are not, especially if the current home is not the original one built on the parcel.
This historic Victorian home (photographed from the neighbor’s front walk) rises above its totally enclosed modern meadow garden inspired by New York City’s High Line, a naturalistic garden established on an unused spur of the city’s elevated train. Check out http://www.thehighline.org if you are not familiar with this unique garden offering trails and a killer NYC view.
As you enter the shallow but heavily planted area you are greeted by a fawn sized moss topiary grazing on its planted partners. Access to the open meadow is narrow and with a steady line of tour goers it is not possible to even step aside to identify or photograph individual plants.
Mixed plantings of shrubs, perennials, grasses, bulbs and ferns fill this small space, including many plants selected for their popularity in Victorian gardens–such as the Bear’s Breeches in the upper left and the Queen’s palm in the upper right.
The meadow is reached through a tunnel arbor planted thickly with sweet peas and other flowering annuals. Artistic accents are welcome surprises around each curve.
Entering the sunny meadow we walk along a single person wide path–a profusion of flowering trees and shrubs, bamboo, grasses, bulbs and perennials mingle in happy abandon.
The path follows the outside curve of the sunny center allowing us to walk in shade looking back over the meadow to the home’s porch.
The death of a massive oak last year offered the opportunity to plant two Chinese silk floss trees, one of which you see in front of the group of visitors. The tree’s trunk sports huge thorns and it will bear pink hibiscus like flowers in late summer through fall.
This eye-catching Albuca batteniana is tucked among the path’s green backdrop. This is a rarish South African perennial bulb related to Orthinogalum and will eventually have white starry flowers. The leaves were a yard long and the immature flower stalk rose over my head. I would think it a winner even if it never bloomed!
This beautiful vine draped arbor along the back of the garden was the space’s standout for me, offering a shady space to relax, dine and enjoy the garden.
The front half of the arbor has metal roofing in addition to the vines but the back half is open as you can see by the shade lines. Comfy outdoor furniture invites visitors to rest a bit while they admire one of several beautiful flower arrangement made from flowers, branches and foliage cut from the meadow.
View of the garden from the outdoor seating area under the arbor.
The more shaded end of the arbor is shielded from the street and the home’s parking by a double gate made from the same materials. These gorgeous custom iron handles and latches grace the double gate and adjacent pedestrian gate.
Looking back from the cobbled parking pad to the gates and arbor–who says functional can’t be also charming?
These first two gardens on the 2019 Gamble Garden Tour could not be more different from one another. The meadow garden, carefully planned and executed, results in a look of wild and natural abandon–anything goes! The classic, clean lines and limited palette of the first offer traditional garden beauty while not limiting the family’s use of the space for parties and play.
With such an inspiring start to this year’s tour I can’t wait to for you to see what’s next. This year I will spread the gardens over a few posts to give you as many photos and details as possible. Keep your eyes open for more gardens coming up soon–right now I am off to the UC Berkeley Botanical Garden’s spring plant sale!!
I went on a small Etsy buying splurge in early 2018–taking advantage of its access to lots of very fine woodworkers offering all sorts of garden related items. It was then I purchased the Little Free Library you’ve seen in my front garden photos, an additional one made in the style of our mountain cabin (still unpainted!) and two six foot cedar tuteurs.
Tuteur is the French word for “trainer”, as in a place on which to grow ornamental vines, roses or veggies. Traditionally a four sided pyramid and fashioned from wood or metal, the structure may also be referred to as an obelisk, teepee trellis or pyramid trellis. There may be subtle distinctions in these names (you know the whole pergola vs arbor thing) but for my purposes tuteur describes its function and the gardener is free to choose its design and style.
I was a little overwhelmed when I originally opened one of the long boxes in the spring of last year and, with a full garden to do list already and lots of travel planned, I slid the opened box and its partner against the back wall of my quilt studio to tackle at a later date.
Fast forward to my 2019, my spring resolution to get a whole slew of unfinished projects done and having tripped over the long boxes innumerable times over the past year, I dragged the opened one out to the garage to get started. It didn’t look any less daunting…
My tuteur’s craftsman, Richard deJong of Woodbrute Designs in British Columbia, promised “easy assembly” but dang, there are a lot of pieces. When in doubt, read the instructions! I quickly determined that the twelve thin pieces were the optional decorative vertical rails, installed after the basic structure was built, and set them aside.
Mr. deJong has cleverly coded the pieces to aid people just like me in getting all these sticks going in the correct direction.
The white painted dowels on the horizontal posts fit into the holes with the white sticker. The unpainted dowels go into the holes without the sticker–thank you God and Mr. deJong.
As the tuteurs will be painted to match my existing trellis work and my front door, I lined all the parts up for a quick coast of primer. I decided to prime before assembly so that the cut ends of the wood would also have the primer’s weather protection.
When the primer was dry I laid the first two sides out on my work surface, making sure to line up the cross pieces white hole to white dowel. The remaining cross pieces sitting on the tool bench will ultimately connect these two panels together.
Using a rubber mallet as specified in the instructions, I tapped each cross piece in to the first vertical rail.
I then tapped in the remaining vertical rail. Both the dowels and the holes are angled exactly so a good fit is easy to achieve.
A first coat of paint is added on what is the inside of each panel and on the insides of each remaining cross piece to make the final painting after assembly a little easier. This is Dunn Edwards Purple Trinket. It a great foil for green foliage and the pinks blues and lavenders I favor in the garden.
After a good bit of time painting, drying and flipping over each panel I am ready for the first assembly that will eventually connect the two panels, making the pyramid shape.
The graduated lengths of cross pieces are added to both sides of the interior of one assembled panel, using only gentle taps of the rubber mallet. Standing up in this position, the cross pieces are a snap to paint out.
The day is getting late and I’ve almost lost all the natural light in the garage. A good bit of drying time is needed for the partial framework in this state. I am heading up the road a piece tomorrow, leaving at daylight for 3 days of garden events in Palo Alto and Berkeley.
It will be next week before I will have time to return to this purple project–watch for my post to see how the two turn out and where they find a home in my garden.